Governments, businesses, consumer groups and NGOs are being urged to come together to create ambitious plans for how Ireland will cut emissions from existing buildings, in order to meet the Paris Agreement and halt global temperature rises.
The call comes from the Irish Green Building Council, and its umbrella organization, the World Green Building Council as the countdown to an EU deadline for the plan fast approaches, and follows the historic signing of the Paris Agreement by world leaders in New York last Friday.
From April 30 this week, Ireland will have just one year to submit its “national renovation strategy” – i.e. a detailed plan on how we will renovate the nation’s homes and commercial buildings to high standards of energy efficiency.
Existing buildings currently account for approximately 30 per cent of Ireland’s total carbon emissions and ensuring they are as energy efficient as possible will be key to help meet the Paris Agreement. Experts widely agree that despite the large number of initiatives aimed at tackling this problem, the rate and depth of renovation is insufficient to meet long-term climate targets.
Last month, the Irish Green Building Council, along with 12 other European Councils officially launched BUILD UPON - the world’s largest collaborative project on building renovation. The project aims to create a renovation revolution across Europe, by establishing renovation strategies that involve and align the thousands of actors and existing initiatives tackling building renovation in the region.
Pat Barry, Executive Director of the IGBC, said: "Those in industry and civic society who feel strongly about the role of buildings to meet our climate goals can influence and help develop a strong and ambitious Government renovation strategy for buildings over the coming year. The Build Upon dialogue process provides stakeholders with the structure to do this. Unfortunately many are not even aware that Government have to submit this strategy next year, so they need to wake up and grab this opportunity."
James Drinkwater, Director of the WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network, added: “Emissions from existing buildings are one of the biggest climate challenges facing Europe and curbing them will be absolutely critical if we are to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement. Europe is doing a huge amount on energy efficient renovation, but it’s not adding up to the results we need because of a lack of coordination.
BUILD UPON has begun convening a major policy dialogue process with organisations, from governments and local authorities, constructions companies and product manufacturers, to energy providers and banks, who are joining forces to tackle this issue. In Ireland, a high level workshop focusing on large scale deep renovation in the commercial buildings sector took place in Google on Tuesday 12th April. This was the first of six Building Renovation Workshops to be organized across the country.
The EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive requires Member States to submit long-term strategies to mobilise investment in renovating existing residential and commercial properties, but to date, the full investment potential is far from being realised. Investor groups have called for clearer long-term renovation targets as policy-makers in Brussels debate revisions to the EU’s main climate and buildings laws; the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and Energy Efficiency Directive.
Patty Fong, Programme Director of the Energy Efficiency Programme at the European Climate Foundation and a BUILD UPON board member, said: “The EU is in the process of revising major laws that will decide the role that Europe’s building sector plays in achieving Paris’ ambition. What we really need is political and industry leadership with a long-term vision for the deep renovation of our building stock so we’re able to meet our collective climate targets, and strong national renovation strategies have a clear role to play in this - which is why our network is partnering with BUILD UPON.”
Major players such and banks are also interested in the development of strong strategies to provide the strengthened policy needed to help support the growing market for energy efficiency.
Luca Bertalot, Secretary General of the European Mortgage Federation – European Covered Bond Council (EMF-ECBC) and a BUILD UPON board member, added: “Banks can play a game changing role in providing long-term financing for energy improvements to the current European housing stock. They intervene at the most critical moment, when citizens purchase a property, and mortgages help individuals and families to access homeownership, thereby allowing them to secure a key part of their social expectations.
“We strongly believe that the banking industry has a role to play in improving the quality and energy performance of housing so as to free-up disposable income and, in parallel, reduce credit risk for borrowers, lenders and investors. A pan-European initiative in this area will help to coordinate market interventions, which will reduce the public resources necessary to boost households’ energy savings. That is why the EMF-ECBC is cooperating with BUILD UPON.”